As Eric said, how very very DISAPPOINTING! No bars spilling out onto the streets with punters basking in the humid night-time air, the jazz club we were so excited about closed, the whole town dark. When Eric, Simon (another French-Canadian, trombone player, nice guy) and I got to Saigon downtown at 12.45am, not a great deal was going on.
I have to disagree with the musical, the heat was definitely NOT on in Saigon. Even more irritatingly, we were conned into a $30 cab fare by a man with a FAKE meter in his car, masquerading as a taxi! He even took the fake light off the roof of his car once he'd started driving us away! I nearly went ballistic, but held it together for the sake of the company I was in.
(Just for comparison, the price on the way back? $10, and the guy followed us around, he was so pleased with Eric's spur-of-the-moment offer.)
We found the only open bar (24 hour so they say) at the shuttle drop-off point, in the Rex Hotel. It was a roof-terrace up on the 5th floor, the top, and had that beautiful faded and creepy atmosphere of somewhere truly lived-in and unique. Here we are. Check out the elephants beside the "stage"! The hotel was built in 1956, so has seen some things I'm sure.
I drank some rum-based drink called a Saigon Beauty, and Eric even tried a local speciality which was pork somehow skewered around a sugar cane. He never managed to actually eat the sugar cane, but said it was otherwise good.
Thinking the hotel bars must be the way to go, we tried two others, the ritzy Sheraton and the Caravelle, which had more character, but none were open.
Back on the pier, there was a party set up by the locals, with a food stall, fake watches, DVDs, T Shirts and the like. We hung around for a while, then turned in at maybe 3am.
Next day, and another view from the back seat of the bus (it's where all the cool people hang) into Downtown. We went in to the indoor section of the Ben Thanh market today, which looks like this. They have Bath n Bodyworks stuff here even. Look how many eyelashes I bought for 30,000 Dongs/under $2! That's 10 pairs! That should see me out til the end of my contract, and beyond! This lady outside had two types of fruit in these buckets slung on her shoulders, and she's proof that those Vietnamese hats aren't just a gimmick, they really do keep the sun off your neck, and they really are worn by people.
I went to my mentally-noted-yesterday-as-favourite store, Orchids, and bought 2 dresses, one of which was altered for me and taken in at the sides (so I could look purty!) while Eric waited. Look closely, see a man who's bored, much? But we did find this battery-powered implement. Tazer-raquet? Staff-slapper? Fly-swatter? I like it!
At 11.30, we took a taxi to the FV Hospital again. I called up Truong, the dentist, on my English mobile phone and told her we'd be 15 minutes late She said she wasn't worried. I wish I could've said the same!
There was a comedy moment when, as I lay back in the chair and Truong went to put the beautiful little porcelain-colour cap she'd made yesterday on my tooth, it pinged up into the air, went missing and we all spent 5 minutes crawling around on the floor overturning every speck of dust we could find looking for it. Actually, because of the fact we were leaving at 2.30pm and it was already 1pm, (no time to make a new cap and $223 paid,) it could've all turned out very UNfunny. BUT it turned up in the assistant nurse's pocket, quite a logistical feat really!
She filed it and I bit down on carbon paper so she could file the coloured 'sticking-up' bits more and realign my bite. It feels SO much better, but kinda tight if that makes any sense... This is us, note me, silently thanking my lucky stars it's all over.
On the drive back, I saw this guy, taking his matress for a bike-ride. Amazing.
Back to the pier, and we decided to eat shrimp at the makeshift food stall by the ship, and I mean right by the ship, see? This was my view. And this is the stall, wait, do you see a man now ACTUALLY SHOPPING?! HMM?! I helped him choose an understated yet smart Omega 'Seamaster' (of course) knock-off for $20.
We also ate crab, (beer crab, a local speciality) one each, see? And although the claws were great, the rest, which spurted bright orange goo when I tried to crack it, was probably best left alone. We drank coconut water, straight from the coconut, and it was so good we drank two each. Yes, I'll write it: this is Eric, showing us his lovely pair of coconuts!
Back onboard I went to dinner at 8.30pm in the Dining Room in one of my new dresses. Eric had a difficult show tonight, he is one of two featured musicians, himself and the drummer Mark, in an amazing show from one of the guest headline acts, Naki, who plays piano solidly for one hour "around the world" ie A Nightingale Sang in Barclay Square to represent England, Danny Boy for Ireland, Kalinka for Russia, New York New York for the US, you get the picture. He just feels so exposed on the stage all alone like that!
It was then to the O (O for Officers!) Bar for darts (I was on form and won in record time!) til late.